Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

PE: Pixel Art Critique Tips

Wed Jan 18, 2012, 2:21 PM
As part of Project Educate Critique week, the Community Volunteers would like to share more art specific elements to consider whilst giving good critique.

Today we are looking at the pixel art- and icon-gallery, with our Top 10 (or so) Tips provided by the wonderful assistance of Hardrockangel.

The_Hovel by zi- iso castle by fool Little red riding hood by syosa
Nero + Mae by staticwind Lil Pixel Owl by griffling Angelishi Silly Dance by Angelishi

1. The outline of your pixel

Like a drawing, pixeling usually starts with a sketch that is later refined to a line art.
And this line art can make or break your pixel depending on how carefully it was made.

A couple of mistakes that are often made:
- bunched up pixels instead of a 1 pixel line
- a disproportionate outline (looks mashed)
- A sketched outline

So how can you make a good-looking line-art? Take your time!
Don't just sketch, but work with a hard brush-tool of 1 pixel and place each  pixel by hand.

What to look for when critiquing:
  • Is the pixel-outline neat?
  • Are there bunched up pixels?
  • Does the outline look sketched instead of pixeled?

2. Colour and use of textures

Another commonly made mistake is the use of bucket-fill and no shading.
Or, in most cases: the palette was picked badly and the outlines is too light or too dark to surround the inner colour.

For colour and palettes, it can be a great help to take a look at colour-theory tutorial. The colour rules that count for traditional and digital art also count for pixel art. Another great resource is the website ColourLovers, for palettes to build upon.

How I See Color - A Tutorial by glitchedpuppet The Big Long Tutorial: Part 01 by shesta713 COLOR Primer - :Color + Value: by ziinyu

For shading, the most commonly used technique is dithering, where you alternate between to colours in a checkerboard-pattern. Depending on the texture you want to achieve, however, you can alter your style of shading.

Don't overdo your textures, though! A checkerboard all over (overdithering) is just as bad as shading by using the outlines (pillow-shading). Both look unnatural and amateuristic at best.

DITHERING TUTORIAL - Basics by kitted Secret shading tut by MixedMilkChOcOlate TUTORIAL: Texture_Color Theory by JaziSnake :thumb203459613: pixel texturing tutorial by MenInASuitcase

What to look for when critiquing:
  • Do all the colours fit together?
  • Is the pixel easy to read? Meaning: how easily can you make out what the pixel is supposed to represent?
  • Is it shaded enough or over-dithered?
  • Is it pillow-shaded?

3. Animation

The most common mistake made here is a sticky or a choppy animation, meaning an animation that is far from smooth. A sticky animation will in most cases look like it's running too slow and "dragged out", whilst a choppy animation will, in most cases, be too fast and badly looped.

The first one can be fixed by deleting some frames or by simply lowering the time it takes for each frame to follow the previous one. A choppy animation can be fixed by adding more frames and slowing down the frame-speed.

What to look for when critiquing:
  • Is the animation smooth or choppy?
  • Is it going too fast or do you feel like frames seem to be missing?
  • Does it look like the animation is lagging?
  • Does the animation loop properly?

A great resource for beginning pixel artists with all the do's and don'ts can be found on the PixelJoint-forum.

Want to test out your new found critique skills? Check out the  Critiquable Art  avalaible on deviantART!

Many Thanks to :iconhardrockangel: for helping to write this article! :heart:

neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Proving that pixel art is complicated once and for all ;p
Patt-Ytto Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012
Many of the points given here were good, and many were not investigated in depth.

Specially the part about animation, but i guess this journal is more about artistic pieces of pixel art instead of pixel art optimized for use in games and web-based application, as more often than not you are required to follow certain procedures to make the most of the limitations that are given to you, such as the difference between pixel art and something that looks like pixel art just because it has no antialias, the difference between pixel art that limits the color pallette (as it shuld) to a maximum of X colors (multiples of 2) instead of the common misconception that you can use millions of colors, etc etc.

This was a good read no doubt, but i feel there were a few tips and trivias that could have been added, for those that would like to know the more advanced aspects of pixel art.
Arichy Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
OMG :iconwantplz:

Thanks a lot, really awesome!! :clap:
Add a Comment:

:iconbeccajs: More from BeccaJS

Featured in Collections

News I Support by namenotrequired


Journals News by pica-ae

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
January 18, 2012


15 (who?)